London commuters are bracing for travel chaos over the weekend as nearly half of all Underground lines are set to be closed amidst a Tube strike.
Bakerloo line drivers from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are expected to walk off the job on Friday for a three-day strike over a timetabling dispute with Transport for London (TfL).
The union said the proposed changes to driver timetables from next month would place “intolerable stress and pressure” on drivers.
TfL has warned today that the line will be “severely affected” and for commuters to expect “little or no service” from 10am on Friday to Monday evening.
The strike couldn’t come at a worst time as the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines will also not be operating over the weekend as TfL is testing new signalling systems.
The Northern line will also be closed between Moorgate and Kennington.
London Underground director of line operations Nick Dent urged the RMT to continue to negotiate in order to avoid the Tube strike.
“We met with the unions last week to outline the steps we have taken already and to talk through their concerns so that we can move forwards,” he said.
“I would urge the RMT to continue working collaboratively with us to resolve these issues.”
However, RMT general secretary Mick Cash told City A.M. that London Underground management had not moved enough from their original position to satisfy union representatives.
He said: “Despite the intensive efforts of RMT negotiators in Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) talks there has been insufficient movement to date by LU in terms of addressing our concerns with respect to the impact of the new Bakerloo line timetable.”
“The action remains on as planned and RMT remains available this week for further talks.”
John Dickie, director of policy at business advocacy group London First, lashed out at the union for the strike.
“The RMT is showing a complete disregard for Londoners, those working in London and visitors by timing this strike to coincide with the planned closure of the sub-surface lines this weekend,” he said.
“We urge all parties to stay at the table and continue to work together to resolve the dispute rather than resorting to strike action that damages our capital’s economy and makes Londoners’ lives more difficult.”